Improved Sir John coming
$7-million facelift to be education friendly

by Ian Elliot
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 01/97) - Sir John Franklin high school is getting a facelift that promises a brighter, sharper look.

That should be the end result of the $7-million, three-year plan to renovate the aging structure.

Principal Anne-Mieke Cameron is hoping Sir John, when it's finished, will be unique -- especially since students have had a lot to say about renovations.

"This all has a lot to do with what the kids are saying about the school," Cameron said of the planning process that got under way last month.

"They are saying light is important, space is important, the views are important, and what's going to happen is a lot of these spaces will be used in a more creative way."

With work to begin next year, the school board and architects have invited students and parents to participate in brain-storming sessions for the new school, consulting them on everything from the layout of the classrooms to where the windows should go, and how large they should be.

Saturday's session involved about 50 people who participated in exercises such as possible layouts of the school using paper cutouts of classrooms and blueprints of the building.

The school, which was the territorial residential high school before being turned over to the local public school board several years ago, is a typical older building with several newer pieces grafted on.

Many participants chuckled during a slide show which contrasted the school's dark, long corridors with curving, brightly-colored details from more modern schools.

Cameron hopes the final outcome will be a school that integrates arts and technology and offers students learning spaces outside the classroom as opposed to the present layout, where youths can be seen reading on heavily-travelled steps or brainstorming outside the doors of the school's boiler room.

"We want to use this process to create a place that's delightful and full of life," Vivian Manasc, of the architectural firm Ferguson Simek Clark, told the Saturday gathering.